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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Oct 2016

 

Motion Code credit cardImage copyrightOBERTHUR TECHNOLOGIES

Image captionThe Motion Code card has a display which changes the three-digit security code every hour

A credit card with a digital display that randomly generates a security code is being launched as a way of combating fraud.

Oberthur Technologies is currently in discussions with UK banks about rolling out the technology and will have cards "in the hands" of consumers in France by the end of the year.

Credit card fraud costs banks millions of pounds each year.

One expert said a different design for credit cards was overdue.

"In some ways, it's surprising it has taken so long for this to appear," Prof Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity expert from Surrey University, told the BBC.

The card provides an extra layer of security by replacing the static printed three-digit security code on the back of the card with a mini screen which displays a random code that changes automatically every hour.

It is powered by a thin lithium battery designed to last for three years.

"The technology has existed for some time so now it will be a case of persuading card processors that it is worth doing," said Prof Woodward.

"It may be costly for card operators as some extra infrastructure will be required to ensure our cards stay synchronised with the operator, but it happens already for many banks with the dongles they issue for login."

One drawback of the card is that customers will no longer be able to memorise their security code and will need to check the card every time they want to make an online purchase.

French banks Societe Generale and Groupe BPCE are preparing to roll the cards out to customers, following a pilot scheme last year and there are also pilot schemes in Mexico and Poland.

According to the UK's Financial Fraud Action, credit card fraud in the UK totalled £755m in 2015 and the Office for National Statistics said that there were 20,255 victims.

There are several ways that fraudsters get hold of credit card details - from the online theft of data to skimmers that are attached to cash machines.

Skimmers - often homemade devices - that are attached to a cash machine, can steal information from the card's magnetic strip and pin code with the help of a fake ATM pin pad or web camera.

Over time, the design has become more sophisticated with the advent of so-called shimmers - that are able to gather information from the card's chip. Scammers are also now able to inject malware directly into cash machines

In response, banks are working on new authentication solutions, based on biometrics - regarded as a more secure way to identify customers.

But a recent study from security firm Kaspersky Labs suggests that cybercriminals are already planning to exploit these new technologies.

It found at least 12 sellers offering skimmers capable of stealing victims' fingerprints. Other underground sellers are already researching devices that could obtain data from palm, vein and iris recognition systems.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky, said the Motion Code card would "reduce the window of opportunity" for a thief with a stolen card but added it would be a stronger proposition if the security code was generated on "another device".

"Banks should consider applying a multitude of cybersecurity solutions to minimise unauthorised access to such information," he said.

"Consumers must also be aware of their digital footprint, installing security updates promptly, using strong and unique passwords, applying caution when using public wi-fi networks and not revealing too much information about ourselves online."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Oct 2016

Big Brother Awards Belgium 2016 – The Devil is in the Default

On 6 October, the Belgian Big Brother Awards 2016 took place in Brussels. The negative prize for the worst privacy abuser was unanimously granted to Facebook by the professional jury. The public confirmed Facebook’s title as the ultimate privacy villain of the year – a big majority of the votes went to the social network that is successfully harvesting and generating personal data from people all around the world.

Facebook is a multi-billion dollar company that has one commodity – you!

said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights.

Facebook has access to a wide range of personal data, and it tracks your movements across the web, whether you are logged in or not. And the devil is in the default: To opt out, you are expected to navigate Facebook’s complex web of settings.

We nominated Facebook for the award because their default settings are noxious for privacy. To understand what privacy you are giving away when you use Facebook… well, that is impossible. Data algorithms that can make new assumptions about users are being constantly developed – even Facebook today would have difficulty knowing how they will use your data tomorrow.

said McNamee.

The Big Brother Awards are based on a concept created by EDRi member Privacy International. The goal is to draw attention to violations of privacy.

bba2016_fb

Big Brother Awards Belgium 2016: “The Devil is in the Default”
https://bigbrotherawards.be/en/

Source: edri.org
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Sep 2016

Nexus 6P

The tech world has finally coalesced around a charging standard, after years of proprietary adapters and ugly wall-wart power supplies. Well, sort of: We’re already seeing some fragmentation in terms of the new USB-C connector, which could eventually replace USB, as well as what is thankfully turning out to be a short-lived obsession Samsung had with larger USB micro-B connectors for its Galaxy line. But aside from that, and with the obvious exception of Apple’s Lightning connector, micro USB has destroyed the industry’s penchant for custom ports.

Ten years ago, you always had to make sure you had the correct power supply for each of your gadgets. Usually, that power supply wasn’t even labeled. Today, you can charge your phone at your friend’s house, plug your ebook reader into any computer, and download photos from a digital camera directly to your TV, all thanks to a standardized connector. In its place, though, there’s a new problem: USB power. Not all USB chargers, connectors, and cables are born equal. You’ve probably noticed that some wall chargers are stronger than others. Sometimes, one USB socket on a laptop is seemingly more powerful than the other. On some desktop PCs, even when they’re turned off, you can charge your smartphone via a USB socket. It turns out there’s a method to all this madness — but first we have to explain how USB power actually works.

New specifications

Many different smartphone chargers... BEGONE!There are now four USB specifications — USB 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 — in addition to the new USB-C connector. We’ll point out where they significantly differ, but for the most part, we’ll focus on USB 3.0, as it’s the most common. In a USB network, there is one host and one device.  In almost every case, your PC is the host, and your smartphone, tablet, or camera is the device. Power always flows from the host to the device, although data can flow in both directions, such as when you copy files back and forth between your computer and your phone.

Okay, now the numbers. A regular USB 1.0 or 2.0 socket has four pins, and a USB cable has four wires. The inside pins carry data (D+ and D-), and the outside pins provide a 5-volt power supply. USB 3.0 ports add an additional row of five pins, so USB 3.0-compatible cables have nine wires. In terms of actual current (milliamps or mA), there are three kinds of USB port dictated by the current specs: a standard downstream port, a charging downstream port, and a dedicated charging port. The first two can be found on your computer (and should be labeled as such), and the third kind applies to “dumb” wall chargers.

In the USB 1.0 and 2.0 specs, a standard downstream port is capable of delivering up to 500mA (0.5A); with USB 3.0, it moves up to 900mA (0.9A). The charging downstream and dedicated charging ports provide up to 1,500mA (1.5A). USB 3.1 bumps throughput to 10Gbps in what’s called SuperSpeed+ mode, bringing it roughly equivalent with first-generation Thunderbolt. It also supports power draw of 1.5A and 3A over the 5V bus.

Anker's 60W-12A 6-Port USB Charger. A unit like this will deliver fast charging to all the ports.

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USB-C is a different connector entirely. It’s universal; you can put it in either way and it will work, unlike with USB, and like Apple’s Lightning connector. USB-C is also capable of twice the theoretical throughput of USB 3.0, and can output more power. Apple joined USB-C with USB 3.1 on its 12-inch MacBook, and Google included it on the now-discontinued Chromebook Pixel. We’re also starting to see it on phones, with the first being the OnePlus 2; current popular models include the Google Nexus 6P, the OnePlus 3, and the Samsung Galaxy Note7. But there can also be older-style USB ports that support the 3.1 standard.

The USB spec also allows for a “sleep-and-charge” port, which is where the USB ports on a powered-down computer remain active. You may have noticed this on your desktop PC, where there’s always some power flowing through the motherboard, but some laptops are also capable of sleep-and-charge.

Now, this is what the spec dictates. But there are plenty of USB chargers that don’t conform to these specs — mostly of the wall-wart variety. Apple’s iPad charger, for example, provides 2.1A at 5V; Amazon’s Kindle Fire charger outputs 1.8A; and many car chargers can output anything from 1A to 2.1A.

Can I blow up my USB device?

iPad USB chargerThere is a huge variance, then, between normal USB ports rated at 500mA, and dedicated charging ports, which range all the way up to 3,000mA. This leads to an important question: If you take a phone which came with a 900mA wall charger, and plug it into a 2,100mA iPad charger, as an example, will it blow up?

In short, no: You can plug any USB device into any USB cable and into any USB port, and nothing will explode — and in fact, using a more powerful charger should speed up battery charging. We now do this all the time with our mobile devices here at ExtremeTech, and we’ve never had a problem.

The longer answer is that the age of your device plays an important role, dictating both how fast it can be charged, and whether it can be charged using a wall charger at all. Way back in 2007, the USB Implementers Forum released the Battery Charging Specification, which standardized faster ways of charging USB devices, either by pumping more amps through your PC’s USB ports, or by using a wall charger. Shortly thereafter, USB devices that implemented this spec started to arrive.

If you have a modern USB device — really, almost any smartphone, tablet, or camera — you should be able to plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy faster charging. If you have an older product, however, it probably won’t work with USB ports that employ the Battery Charging Specification. It might only work with old school, original (500mA) USB 1.0 and 2.0 PC ports. In some (much older) cases, USB devices can only be charged by computers with specific drivers installed, but this is now going back more than a decade.

There are a few other things to be aware of. While PCs can have two kinds of USB port — standard downstream or charging downstream — OEMs haven’t always labeled them as such. As a result, you might have a device that charges from one port on your laptop, but not from the other. This is a trait of older computers, as there doesn’t seem to be a reason why standard downstream ports would be used, when high-amperage charging ports are available. Most vendors now put a small lightning icon above the proper charging port on laptops, and in some cases, those ports can even stay on when the lid is closed.

In a similar vein, some external devices — 3.5-inch hard drives, most notably — require more power than a typical USB port can provide. That’s why they include a two-USB-port Y-cable, or an external AC power adapter.

Otherwise, USB has certainly made charging our gadgets and peripherals much easier than it ever has been. And if the new USB-C connector continues to catch on, things will get even simpler, because you’ll never again have to curse out loud after plugging it in the wrong way.

Source: extremetech.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Sep 2016

Amazon Dash buttonsImage copyrightAMAZON

Amazon's UK customers can now push a button when they run out of toilet rolls or washing powder - and within 24 hours a package will arrive at the front door.

You can see the launch of the Dash service in two ways. It's either another miraculous piece of innovation from the e-commerce giant that will make our lives simpler, or a scary sign that lazy consumers are yet again handing far too much power to a US technology firm.

Amazon Prime subscribers in Austria and Germany are also being offered the service.

Here's how it works. There are Dash buttons for about 40 brands at launch, ranging from dishwasher tablets, to instant coffee to condoms. You buy the button - but get the cost off your first purchase. Then you set it up with the Amazon shopping app, choosing the exact product and your delivery preferences. From now on, when you run out of that product, pressing the wi-fi-connected button will simply trigger an order via the shopping app.

And, yes, Amazon has thought of what you were thinking - if your children delight in pressing buttons repeatedly, you won't get a mountain of toilet rolls delivered to your door. Once an order has been placed, you get a notification, and another button press within 24 hours will be ignored.

The company says the aim is to do away with the most tedious of shopping experiences.

"Nobody gets retail therapy shopping for toilet paper," as the executive demonstrating the Dash button explained to me.

Amazon Dash buttonsImage copyrightAMAZON

Dash was greeted with scepticism when it launched in the US in March last year. Were people really lazy enough to want to do that?

At first, it was slow to take off, but those who used it demanded more buttons, and now there are more than 150 products available.

Amazon is, as ever, light on detail when it comes to giving out numbers, but it says orders through the Dash button have grown threefold in the past two months.

It's being launched in the UK along with a sister product, which takes removing the hassle of shopping a stage further.

Dash Replenishment involves devices such as dishwashers and printers automatically ordering new supplies of tablets or ink cartridges without their owner needing to do anything, except sign up in the first place.

What Amazon is doing here is providing the first really compelling examples of how the so-called internet of things could transform our homes, with smart appliances talking to the network about their needs.

Amazon Dash buttonImage copyrightAMAZON

It's also a demonstration of the extraordinary breadth of skills at the disposal of Jeff Bezos's firm - from a deep knowledge of what makes consumers tick, to an extraordinary logistics operation that can now deliver products to some addresses within an hour, to the nimblest supplier of cloud computing services on the planet.

But hold on a minute.

Are we so lazy now that we are happy to have one pack of soap powder make its way from Amazon's fulfilment centre down busy city streets to our door, with all the environmental impact that entails, rather than heading to the shops and getting everything in one go?

Shouldn't we have the weekly shop delivered to us by a British supermarket?

Are we happy to tie ourselves to big brands whose buttons we will push, or whose appliances will buy their perhaps pricey supplies on our behalf?

Media captionWATCH: Dave Lee explained how Dash buttons worked when they launched, in 2015

And do we like the idea that this brilliant American technology firm will be collecting ever more data about our shopping habits, even if it is doing that to deliver us a better retail experience?

Like it or not, shopping is becoming an on-demand, push-button, instant gratification experience. And, as in so many other areas of our lives, it seems likely that it will be shaped by a US technology company.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Sep 2016

There’s a thriving market for illicitly obtained stills and video

Meriel Jane Waissman/Getty

FBI director James Comey recently recommended that we all cover our webcams with tape for security reasons. Comey believes that doing so is a simple step for people to "take responsibility for their own safety and security."

Apparently Comey doesn't want to be spied on. In questions during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Comey revealed that cam-covering is commonplace at the FBI and other government offices. "It's not crazy that the FBI director cares about personal security as well," he added. "If you go into any government office, we all have our little camera things that sit on top of the screen, they all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so people who do not have authority don't look at you. I think that's a good thing."

That the FBI's director covers his cams may be a surprise to some, just as it was when people spotted Mark Zuckerberg's webcam tape-over in a photo of his Facebook desk this spring.

But many of us who've been paying attention to cybercrime and punishment have been covering our webcams for years, and telling all our friends and family to do it, too. What's more surprising is that it's taken this long for officials and the press to raise the alarm. I mean, they're just a few years behind, but hey, it's nice to know they care.

In 2010, a Pennsylvania school narrowly escaped criminal charges when it was caught secretly taking photos of students through the webcams on school-issued laptops. Harriton High School student Blake Robbins filed a civil suit, and the FBI launched an investigation when he found out school employees had photographed him 400 times over a two-week period -- sometimes when he was partially undressed or sleeping. School officials said they had a tracking system for finding lost or stolen laptops but admitted that the software program took images every 15 minutes without telling the user. It turns out they'd snapped around 56,000 privacy-violating pictures of students.

Aside from institutional malfeasance, there's been a thriving black market for compromised webcams and the video or photos they can produce -- for many years. A clearly startled 2013 BBC reporter claimed the going price for access to a woman's webcam was priced at $1 per girl, whereas computer webcams belonging to men cost $1 -- for one hundred. And even then, three years ago, it was old news. The programs that capture images, take videos and record audio are not expensive, and they do their jobs surreptitiously by overriding the "record" light so victims don't know they're being spied on.

BBC's story was sparked by a case involving a Miss Teen USA contestant. A year before Cassidy Wolf won the 2013 crown, a guy in her high school used a program to hack into the webcam on her computer and take photos of her. She found out when he got into her social media accounts and tried to extort money from her. It turns out that she was one of 12 girls he had taken photos of and threatened for cash. He was sentenced to 18 monthsbehind bars.

The software is typically put on a computer when the victim clicks a link, often through an email, and the computer becomes infected with a program that hides while letting the computer's camera be controlled remotely. Known as phishing, it's the most common form of online hack attack.

The following year, the FBI ran its largest cyber operation to date, in 2014,arresting scores of webcam hackers in over a dozen countries, who had all been using a program called Blackshades. The program has the ability to give its user access to "photographs and other files on the victim's computer, record all of the keystrokes entered on the victim's keyboard, steal the passwords to the victim's online accounts, and even activate the victim's web camera to spy on the victim -- all of which could be done without the victim's knowledge." The malicious tool was shown to have been purchased by several thousand hackers in over 100 countries, infecting more than half a million computers around the world.

After her harrowing experience, Ms. Wolf now tapes over all of her webcams, and so should we all. Everything has a camera. Your phone, your laptop, your tablet. If you have a modern device that can get online, it probably has a camera. And if it has a camera, someone looking for cash or scummy thrills has probably figured out how to hack it and turn it on without your knowing. Protecting yourself is as easy as taping it up, just like Zuck and Comey. Sticky notes work well because they have a gentle adhesive, and you can also find privacy stickers for purchase online that are made specifically for putting on (and taking off) web and phone cameras.

Perhaps what's such a facepalm isn't the irony of the FBI telling us how not to get spied on, or why cam-covering is such a wacky idea to Comey's friends. It's that the FBI is acknowledging to the public that, really, it's "everyone for themselves" when it comes to technology and personal security.

Which is how some of us have been proceeding all along.

Image: AP Photo/Richard Drew (Blackshades)

Source: engadget.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Sep 2016

While you're waiting to buy a new electric car that's basically a computer on wheels, a new startup is trying to make smart, well-designed products that will put a little bit of technology into your existing car. 

 

Pearl is the name of the startup, and RearVision is its first product. It’s a backup camera and alert system that’s easy to install. It’s basically a license plate frame with two cameras.

Those cameras sync to your phone, either through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. So start the Pearl app on your phone, and you'll see what's behind you as you back up your car. 

Pearl’s CEO, Bryson Gardner, was one of the key people behind several Apple products, including the iPod Nano, and his team at Pearl has over 50 former Apple employees. He tells me the rear-view camera is only the first of a set of computerized accessories for your car that the company is currently building. 

We took it for a spin this past weekend. So is it worth $500? 

View As: One Page Slides

 

The PearlRearvision is a set of HD cameras built into a license plate holder. Here's what it looks like when it's installed.

The PearlRearvision is a set of HD cameras built into a license plate holder. Here's what it looks like when it's installed.

Those are cameras!Kif Leswing/Business Insider

The Pearl RearVision doesn’t just include the smart license plate holder. It also comes with a phone mount, installation screwdriver, and magnetic stickers for your phone.

The Pearl RearVision doesn’t just include the smart license plate holder. It also comes with a phone mount, installation screwdriver, and magnetic stickers for your phone.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

One of the nicest touches on the Pearl RearVision is that it’s solar-powered. A set of solar panels run along the bottom edge of the license plate holder, so the part you install on your car shouldn’t need any extra power. But if it does run out of juice, there’s a built-in USB cord too.

One of the nicest touches on the Pearl RearVision is that it’s solar-powered. A set of solar panels run along the bottom edge of the license plate holder, so the part you install on your car shouldn’t need any extra power. But if it does run out of juice, there’s a built-in USB cord too.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

The device takes up a little bit more space than a normal license plate holder.

The device takes up a little bit more space than a normal license plate holder.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

Don't worry about the RearVision getting stolen. Taking it off requires a special hexagonal screwdriver.

Don't worry about the RearVision getting stolen. Taking it off requires a special hexagonal screwdriver.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

Installation was a snap. You take off the old license plate holder, and install the new one. It took me 20 minutes, but that was because the screws holding my license plate were rusted on.

Installation was a snap. You take off the old license plate holder, and install the new one. It took me 20 minutes, but that was because the screws holding my license plate were rusted on.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

Then, you have to install a small computer that goes into your car’s OBD port. Don’t worry, your car has one — although it might be tricky to find.

Then, you have to install a small computer that goes into your car’s OBD port. Don’t worry, your car has one — although it might be tricky to find.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

Here's what an OBD port looks like:

Here's what an OBD port looks like:

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

Then, you pair your phone to the RearVision through both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It’s pretty easy.

Then, you pair your phone to the RearVision through both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It’s pretty easy.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

Mount your phone, and start backing up!

Mount your phone, and start backing up!

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

The first thing I noticed about the RearVision is that the image quality is pretty good. It’s certainly better than the factory-installed backup camera on the 2010 Prius I tested it on.

The first thing I noticed about the RearVision is that the image quality is pretty good. It’s certainly better than the factory-installed backup camera on the 2010 Prius I tested it on.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

There are two main camera modes: one gives you a very wide angle, and the other a more limited view of what’s behind your car. You can pan up and down with the app. When you start backing up, and the Pearl app is on, the camera mode will start automatically. Both show up in portrait view.

There are two main camera modes: one gives you a very wide angle, and the other a more limited view of what’s behind your car. You can pan up and down with the app. When you start backing up, and the Pearl app is on, the camera mode will start automatically. Both show up in portrait view.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

When you start traveling over 10 miles per hour, the app will automatically stop showing you the camera view, and boot into a very attractive app launcher.

When you start traveling over 10 miles per hour, the app will automatically stop showing you the camera view, and boot into a very attractive app launcher.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

When you’re backing up, and a car or other obstacle comes into your space, the device will start beeping. First, it’s a gentle beep, but when you’re about to hit something, it will pick up in intensity.

 

 

 

One great feature is a night mode that's fairly clear even when it’s dark out.

One great feature is a night mode that's fairly clear even when it’s dark out.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

Pearl RearVision is available for both iPhones and Android phones. I tested it on an iPhone, and my biggest annoyance was that it didn’t boot up automatically when I got into the car. Apparently, this is a feature on Android devices, though.

Another weird thing: The Pearl app’s launcher has a Waze icon, but I don’t even have Waze installed on my phone.

Another weird thing: The Pearl app’s launcher has a Waze icon, but I don’t even have Waze installed on my phone.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

Overall, I really liked the image clarity from Pearl RearVision, and the app is stable and attractive.

Overall, I really liked the image clarity from Pearl RearVision, and the app is stable and attractive.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

I wasn’t a huge fan of Pearl’s included phone mount. I only tried the vent mount. It feels well-built and solid, but the way it attaches to a vent felt a little bit flimsy. Although the mount is adjustable, it was rather stiff for me, so I wasn't able to tilt my phone towards myself when I was driving. However, once it gets loose, it should be adjustable, according to Pearl. The company also sells these mounts separately.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Pearl’s included phone mount. I only tried the vent mount. It feels well-built and solid, but the way it attaches to a vent felt a little bit flimsy. Although the mount is adjustable, it was rather stiff for me, so I wasn't able to tilt my phone towards myself when I was driving. However, once it gets loose, it should be adjustable, according to Pearl. The company also sells these mounts separately.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

I didn't like how the phone mount requires you to stick a sticker on your phone. It comes with stickers that are big and magnetic enough to go underneath a case, but I don't really want to affix something to my phone.

I didn't like how the phone mount requires you to stick a sticker on your phone. It comes with stickers that are big and magnetic enough to go underneath a case, but I don't really want to affix something to my phone.

Kif Leswing/Business Insider

If your car doesn’t have a built-in rear camera, the RearVision is a great way to add one. But if you’ve already got one, it’s overkill. Still, I can’t wait to see what the team at Pearl builds next — it’s nice having car accessories built with an Apple-style focus on detail.

If your car doesn’t have a built-in rear camera, the RearVision is a great way to add one. But if you’ve already got one, it’s overkill. Still, I can’t wait to see what the team at Pearl builds next — it’s nice having car accessories built with an Apple-style focus on detail.

Pearl

 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Sep 2016

When Tom Hanks runs into your wedding photos

27 September 2016 Last updated at 18:17 BST

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks was out for a jog in Central Park, New York, on Saturday when he bumped into bride and groom Elisabeth and Ryan as they were having their wedding photos taken.

As well as posing for a selfie with the couple, Hanks told them he was an ordained minister and could help out if necessary.

New York based photographer Meg Miller, who was taking the photographs of the couple, said on Instagram that the accidental meeting was the "icing on the cake" to a beautiful wedding.

Jump media player

 

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Sep 2016

It’s not exactly a secret that Google will be announcing a slew of new gadgets next week at itshardware event on October 4. VentureBeat can confirm that the world will indeed be introduced to a Google Pixel and a Google Pixel XL.

Google PixelThe Google Pixel VentureBeat

Rumors that Google is launching two new phones later this year — codenamed Sailfish and Marlin — have been circulating for months. The smartphones are supposed to ditch the Nexus branding in favor of Pixel and be built by HTC.

Google Pixel, the smaller of the two devices, was first detailed under its Sailfish codename byAndroid Police in June. That report said the phone would have a 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core 2.0GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 2770 mAh battery, a 12MP rear camera, and an 8MP front camera. The report also said users could expect a top-mountedheadphone jack, a fingerprint scanner on the rear (à la Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P), and a USB-C port on the bottom. The Google Pixel XL will sport similar specs, except for a 5.5-inch QHD display and a 3450mAh battery, also according to Android Police.

Google Pixel xlThe Google Pixel XL VentureBeat

You can expect these phones on Verizon in the U.S. and unlocked when purchased directly from Google, of course. Expect details for other carriers around the world to follow. Android Police expects that the smaller Google Pixel will start at $649, which would make the entry price tag more expensive than for any Nexus lineup yet. But these aren’t Nexus phones. They’re Pixels.

Read the original article on VentureBeat. Copyright 2016. Follow VentureBeat on Twitter.

Source: businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Sep 2016

Privacy watchdog says data-sharing scheme is 'an infringement of national data protection law'

Facebook has been ordered to stop collecting and storing data on WhatsApp users in Germany, marking the first regulatory challenge to a controversial data-sharing scheme that the social media company announced in August. In a statement published Tuesday, Germany's privacy watchdog said that sharing WhatsApp user data with Facebook, the messaging app's parent company, constitutes "an infringement of national data protection law." The regulatory body also ordered Facebook to delete all data that has already been transferred from WhatsApp.

Facebook's data-sharing scheme has been closely monitored by privacy groups across Europe. When Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, the app's co-founder, Jan Koum, assured users that their privacy would not be compromised. Under the policy announced in August, however, WhatsApp will share some user data — including phone numbers — with Facebook, and plans to allow businesses to contact users directly through its app.

"FACEBOOK HAS TO ASK FOR THEIR PERMISSION IN ADVANCE. THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED."

WhatsApp has said that the arrangement will allow Facebook to deliver more targeted advertising and friend suggestions, and that analytics data will help combat spam and fraud. But privacy advocates have criticized the companies for not being transparent about the change. In a blog post published after the announcement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) described the move as "a clear threat to users’ control of how their WhatsApp data is shared and used."

Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg data protection commissioner, echoed those concerns in a statement on Tuesday, saying that Facebook has not "obtained effective approval" of the policy change from WhatsApp users. Caspar also expressed concern that Facebook may eventually seek to collect data on a broader range of users, including those listed in WhatsApp contacts lists who are not connected to Facebook.

"This administrative order protects the data of about 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany," Caspar said. "It has to be their decision, whether they want to connect their account with Facebook. Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened."

Other privacy regulators have raised concerns over the data-sharing scheme. CNIL, France's data protection authority and the chair of a group of privacy regulators across Europe, said in August that privacy watchdogs will be monitoring the change to WhatsApp's policy "with great vigilance." The Information Commission's Office (ICO), Britain's data privacy regulator, also said it would monitor how data is shared across the two platforms, though it does not have the authority to block the scheme altogether.

In an email statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company will appeal the order from Germany's privacy watchdog.

"Facebook complies with EU data protection law," the spokesperson said. "We will appeal this order and we will work with the Hamburg DPA in an effort to address their questions and resolve any concerns."

 

Update September 27th, 10:39AM ET: Updated with new statement from Facebook, clarifying the company's plans to appeal.

Source: theverge.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 26th Sep 2016

MI6 headquarters in LondonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, is to grow by nearly 1,000 staff by 2020, BBC Newsnight has learned.

The spy agency argues the planned boost - from 2,500 staff to a little under 3,500 - has been made necessary by the development of the internet and technology.

MI6 will use the extra staff to ensure the security of people and operations.

No public announcement has been made, but the BBC has established the 40% boost via Whitehall sources.

Intelligence bosses around the world are trying to work out how they can continue to operate covertly in an age where almost everyone in Western societies has left traces on the internet, making it far harder to create fictitious identities.

Facial recognition technology has also reached the point where images - for example of an intelligence officer travelling under an assumed identity - can be easily reverse searched to find pictures posted online under their real identity, before they joined MI6 or the CIA.

'Fundamental changes'

In a rare public appearance in Washington DC on Tuesday, Alex Younger, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, alluded to the scale of this challenge.

"The information revolution fundamentally changes our operating environment," he said.

"In five years' time there will be two sorts of intelligence services - those that understand this fact and have prospered, and those that don't and haven't.

"And I'm determined that MI6 will be in the former category."

MI6 is set to secure the lion's share of additional people for the intelligence services promised by the government in its 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

That pledged 1,900 additional staff, but MI6 will get most of that figure, with the Security Service (MI5), Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, the eavesdropping organisation), and police Counter Terrorist Command sharing the remainder.

MI6 headquarters in LondonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The scale of challenge faced by spymasters became clearer in 2010, following theassassination of a Palestinian militant in Dubai by a team believed to have been sent there by Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence arm.

It quickly became clear that the hit team had travelled on European passports that had been cloned, and belonged to real people who had visited or were living in Israel.

It is thought Mossad may have done this because of the difficulties of operating today with completely false identities.

MI6 officers fear that sensitive operations will be increasingly open to compromise by foreign spies or even militant groups skilled at using the internet.

'Increasing visibility'

"Our opponents who are unconstrained by conditions of lawfulness or proportionality can use these capabilities to gain increasing visibility of our activities which means that we have to completely change the way that we do stuff," Mr Younger said.

Both MI6 and GCHQ face increasing challenges also because of the breakdown in co-operation between technology firms and the agencies following the revelations of US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"To the extent that those revelations damaged and undermined the trust that needs to exist, I think it's highly problematic," said Mr Younger.

Mark Urban is diplomatic and defence editor for BBC Newsnight. More on this story on the programme at 22:30 on BBC Two - or you can catch up afterwards on iPlayer

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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